Despite oppostion, NC Senate cuts teaching assistants’ funding

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A number of failed attempts were made Wednesday to prevent the North Carolina Senate from cutting funds that would mean the elimination of around 14,000 teaching assistants.

It began with a face-to-face attempt of lobbying senators by teaching assistants. It ended when several amendments to restore teaching assistant funding were shot down.

Teaching assistants from around the state walked the halls of the General Assembly, desperate to explain to senators what they do and why they need to stay in the classroom.

“I would like a senator to come and follow me one day in the classroom and see the diversity of education we have to deal with and the type of students we deal with,” said Lacy Autry of NC Association of Teaching Assistants.

As the senate when into session, it recognized the teaching assistants who were sitting in the gallery. The same ones who watched in frustration as attempts were made to restore funding for their positions.

“Cutting 8,592 teaching assistants is not the answer to the failing schools now being rated D’s and F’s,” said Sen. Gladys Robinson (D-Guilford).

But Robinson’s amendment to restore the funding failed.

Then, Sen. Terry Van Duyn (D-Buncombe) tried to shift funds to pay for the teaching assistants.

“What this amendment does is that it restores the funds for teachers’ assistants and pays for it by eliminating the corporate tax cut,” Van Duyn said.

But Senate Republicans could not be persuaded.

“When we look at teaching assistants, we have a finite amount of money and we want to spend it the best way we possibly can to educate students in the classroom,” said Sen. Dan Soucek (R-Caldwell).

Despite the defeats in the Senate, teaching assistants who came to the General Assembly said they are counting on the House to keep that funding intact.

The House budget did not cut teaching assistant funds and educators hope funding for them will make it into the conference committee version of the bill.

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